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By Brian Bergner Jr.

Larson Newspapers


A new craze has hit the streets of Sedona, or the pool that is, as underwater hockey is being offered by the Sedona Parks and Recreation Department at the Sedona Community Pool this summer.

Two teams of six, or three, depending on numbers in this newly offered sport, will take a dive deep underwater with hockey sticks nearly 1 foot long and a puck over 3 pounds in weight.

This, of course, wasn’t thought up out of the blue by the wonderful people at the Sedona Parks and Recreation Department; it has been a competitive sport for some time now in California and other parts of the world.

There’s even an underwater hockey committee based in California which is directly tied to the Underwater Society of America.

Here in Sedona, pool lifeguards were given the chance to try out the sport firsthand and dove in quickly Wednesday, June 3, to figure out what this underwater hockey is all about.

Lifeguards Erik Svensson, Catherine Polito, Chris Kamas and Samantha Juda played a little two-on-two on Wednesday, finding out just how tough it is to get this game going.

“It’s very difficult to move the puck underwater with this small stick,” Kamas said while taking a breather above water.

The four could be seen underwater trying to jockey position while moving toward their opponents’ goal, but in the end, it was just for fun.

“When I took my trip to San Deigo, I saw people playing underwater hockey and it was pretty intense,” Juda said.

The sport seems to take on a life of its own. At first the four lifeguards were skeptical about the event, then could be seen still trying to score well after the allotted time in the water had expired.

Polito and Kamas would rise for air, then quickly dive down before Juda and Svensson could score and vice versa.

“You don’t think it’s that difficult until you actually try it,” Polito said.

Underwater hockey is a fast-moving game that seems to quickly build swimming and free diving capability.

Players usually wear fins, mask, snorkel and protective glove and head gear in California, but here in Sedona, they’re only at the beginning stages.

The stick is usually 1 foot long and oddly shaped while the puck is 3 pounds and each goal is 9 feet in length.

“I think this could be an entertaining thing to do in the water for sure,” Svensson said.

Rules of the game consist of a noncontact variety and players generally cover certain zones around the puck.

Success ultimately depends on teamwork, just like any other team sport, since no single person can hold their breath forever. Individual strength is also less of an advantage than it is in many other sports due to the underwater part of the sport.

So why underwater hockey?

Well, Senior Recreation Coordinator Rachel Thurlow says the Sedona Parks and Recreation Department is trying to be as diverse as possible.

“The Sedona Parks and Recreation Department wants to offer diverse programing at the pool. We have activities for children and for swimmers, but what about adults that want exercise and fun in the water without lap swimming?” Thurlow asked.

“What about those adults that want organized, group activity that is fun, allows them to meet people, be a little competitive and get to be in the water. Those are people we are trying to target with this new program,” she added.

This new underwater hockey program is sure to catch fire once the Sedona Parks and Recreation Department gets it going.

For now, the Sedona Community Pool is the place to be from 5 to 6 p.m., Friday, throughout the summer, for anyone even remotely interested in underwater hockey.

Be there.


Brian Bergner Jr. can be reached at 282-7795, ext. 131, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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